Monday, November 19, 2007
Scream 2007: Analog Live! at the Redcat Theater
Scream 2007 has been of the highlights of my concert year. Matrix Synth tipped me off to this event quite awhile back and I immediately checked for when tickets went on sale. This was an event that one can only hope will be duplicated again. The premise of this event was to gather forerunners of the analog world for a monumental display. It was a Jedi council of analog synthesis masters.
Gary Chang was first as he played a piece entitled "Sancturies:Faith". Gary sat behind his massive Wiard system and a sea of blinking lights started to twinkle around him. Gary has a history of film scoring and showcased this talent with an stunning ambient piece. It reminded me of something that Ulrich Schnauss would do. It was cinematic in the true sense of the word. The only way to describe it would be if you were traveling the ocean on a bright day as a light mist hit you. I am sure many others in the audience visualized something else. There was a screen running visuals throughout the show but I was more enthralled with the performers. Gary's song lasted roughly nine minutes but it went by in seconds.
Chas Smith was next with his song "The Ghosts on the Windows". Chas Smith is a welder and designer of large metal mechanisms and brought some of his crazy inventions including "The Towers" and "Guitarzilla". "The Towers" are large titanium rods with titanium plates welded on the ends. Chas had some mallets that he would use to generate a hollow metallic chimey soundscape. His song did conjure images of ghosts and darkness. When the titanium rods were struck, it sent an icy chill throughout the room. It was striking how musical the rods were. Chas would later use his "Guitarzilla" which is a 12 string neck and an 8 string bass neck with a bevy of effects pedals at his feet.
Cold Blue Music distributes some of Chas Smith's cds. Chas's song lasted about 10 minutes.
Peter Grenader was next with "The Secret Life of Semiconductors". It was Part 4 and the Coda from the original piece and this is where the analog action really started to heat up. Peter runs Plan B synthesizers which are featured along with Livewire in Alessandro Cortini's EAR modular system. Peter's piece started with rapid fire drums that were punctuated with almost xylophone sound swells as the momentum continually built. A large round of applause capped his performance.
Alessandro Cortini was next. Alessandro had his Buchla 200e system and his EAR Modular system in concordance with his French Connection controller. Alessandro's piece was "Paris 1" and written while he was in Paris while touring with Nine Inch Nails. Alessandro is also in ModWheelmood which I highly recommend you check out. He recently released "Things Will Change" which features some of his songs remixed by some excellent artists like TRS-80, Thavius Beck and my favorite by Roger O'Donnell. Alessandro's song started off with a sequenced arpeggiated piece that he triggered bathed in synth washes. Alessandro used the ring on his French connection to add some theremin like effects to the song.
Thighpaulsandra has an extensive background in electronics and quite the resume having five solo albums and being a member of Spirtualized. Thighpaulsandra performed "The Aborted Ascension of Angel Assassins" which was the most collaborative song of the night. A bundle of gear surrounded him as he played. A detailed setup is listed here. The song started off like a soundtrack to an old video games and Thighpaulsandra would visually cue the other members into the song to add their own analog goodness. I was particularly blow away by his Moog Voyager solo where he used the pitch and modulation wheels extensively. The song had so many layers and elements going on, the listener was immersed in sound. I detected musical moments of Tron, The Terminator and Galaga but infinitely cooler. My mind was already starting to melt.
RIchard Devine closed out the evening in grand fashion. It was a laptop performance that was nothing that I have ever seen or heard. Bit smashing, glitch, reconstruction and deconstruction are some of the descriptive elements for his performance. I could only think that it had elements of sounds from the Matrix but way more intense. I didn't hear any repetitive segments in his song but there was a strong rhythmic component near the end. Richard had a Sony Vaio laptop and an Apple laptop amongst his Korg MS-20 USB controller. Richard looked fiercely intense and cradled his Sony laptop at one point and used the track pad to control the sound elements. His performance was symbolically ended with him pulling the plug on his laptop. My mind was officially blown.
Overall, the evening was one that synth enthusiasts will not forget. Each performance built on itself and culminated to a grand finale. I really hope they could arrange to do something like this again. I have been to roughly 200 concerts this year and this has been the most difficult to describe because it was so amazing.